Unscripted Beijing’s theatre of the absurd

Unscripted Beijing’s theatre of the absurd, by Greg Sheridan.

China’s deputy ambassador, Wang Xining, deserves thanks and even some praise for speaking to the National Press Club and taking unscripted questions from ­impertinent journalists.

Communist regime officials never have to do this at home and seldom do it abroad.

And his prepared speech was a mostly conciliatory, or at least not downright hostile, celebration of the Australia-China part­nership, especially the economic partnership.

This is a sharp contrast to the Wolf Warrior style of Chinese diplomats recently and is welcome as far as it goes. But when it came to question time, the communist diplomat was confronted with facts not part of the party narrative.

As a result, he had to say ridiculous things that plainly do not correspond with reality. He sounded like a Soviet diplomat from the 1950s, trying forlornly to bend the truth to the mighty will of the party.

Example:

How can there be a comprehensive strategic partnership between the two nations when Australian cabinet ministers cannot get their phone calls returned by their Chinese counterparts, he was asked.

Oh, well, you see it’s been very busy at the time of the virus and anyway we are not aware of any unreturned phone calls, was the gist of his reply.

This is plainly ridiculous.

Simon Birmingham has complained long and loud about the refusal of his Chinese counterpart to pick up the phone or return his call.

Is the Chinese diplomat implying that Birmingham is suffering some kind of hallucination? …

And so on, example after example.

Mr Wang is a very capable diplomat but the Chinese state has never been able to work very effectively in a democratic context.

Democracies, you see, or at least their free citizens, have this stubborn attachment to reality.

Where would the extreme left be without extreme lying?